BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON
          ELECTIONS AND CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
                              Senator Ben Allen, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:             AB 2010        Hearing Date:    6/8/16    
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          |Author:    |Ridley-Thomas                                        |
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          |Version:   |5/25/16                                              |
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          |Urgency:   |No                     |Fiscal:    |No               |
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          |Consultant:|Darren Chesin                                        |
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             Subject:  Voter's pamphlet:  electronic candidate statement

           DIGEST
           
          Permits local agencies to allow candidates for local,  
          nonpartisan elective office to submit candidate statements that  
          are electronically distributed, but are not included in the  
          voter's pamphlets that accompany the sample ballots. 

           ANALYSIS
           
           Existing law:
           
          1)Permits each candidate for local nonpartisan elective office  
            to submit a candidate's statement to appear in a voter's  
            pamphlet subject to the following procedures and restrictions:  


             a)   Permits the statement to include the name, age, and  
               occupation of the candidate and a brief description, of no  
               more than 200 words, of the candidate's education and  
               qualifications expressed by the candidate himself or  
               herself.  Permits the governing body of the local agency to  
               authorize an increase in the limitations on the words for  
               the statement from 200 to 400 words. 

             b)   Prohibits the statement from including the party  
               affiliation of the candidate, or membership or activity in  
               any partisan political organizations. 








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             c)   Permits a statement to be withdrawn, but not changed,  
               during the period for filing nomination papers and until 5  
               p.m. of the next working day after the close of the  
               nomination period. 

             d)   Allows, but does not require, a local agency to require  
               each candidate filing a statement to pay for the pro rata  
               share of the total costs of printing, handling,  
               translating, and mailing all the candidate's statements.   
               Requires the local agency to decide whether to charge  
               candidates for the costs of candidate's statements before  
               the nominating period opens for the election. 

          1)Requires the elections official to send each voter a sample  
            ballot and a voter's pamphlet which contains the written  
            statements of each candidate. 

          2)Requires each voter's pamphlet that contains candidate  
            statements, as detailed above, to include the following  
            statement or statements: 
             a)   If any candidate is not listed in the pamphlet, that the  
               pamphlet does not contain a complete list of candidates and  
               that a complete list of candidates appears on the sample  
               ballot; and, 

             b)   That each candidate's statement in the pamphlet is  
               volunteered by the candidate and (if printed at the  
               candidate's expense) is printed at his or her expense. 

          1)Permits county and city elections officials to establish  
            processes designed to permit a voter to opt out of receiving  
            his or her sample ballot, voter's pamphlet, notice of polling  
            place, and associated materials by mail, and instead obtain  
            them electronically via email or accessing them on the  
            county's or city's Internet Web site, provided that certain  
            conditions are met. 

          2)Allows a candidate for statewide elective office who accepts  
            the voluntary expenditure limits set forth by state law to  
            purchase the space to place a statement that does not exceed  
            250 words in the state ballot pamphlet.  Prohibits any such  
            statement from making reference to any opponent of the  
            candidate. Requires any such statement to be submitted in  
            accordance with timeframes and procedures set forth by the  








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            Secretary of State for the preparation of the state ballot  
            pamphlet. Defines "statewide office" for these purposes to  
            include the office of member of the Board of Equalization. 

          3)Allows a candidate for State Senate or Assembly who accepts  
            the voluntary expenditure limits set forth by state law to  
            purchase the space to place a statement that does not exceed  
            250 words in the voter information portion of the sample  
            ballot.  Prohibits any such statement from making reference to  
            any opponent of the candidate.  Requires any such statement to  
            be submitted in accordance with timeframes and procedures set  
            forth in the Elections Code for the preparation of the voter  
            information portion of the sample ballot. 

          4)Permits a candidate for United States Senator to purchase the  
            space to place a candidate's statement in the state ballot  
            pamphlet that does not exceed 250 words, as specified.   
            Permits a candidate for United States Representative to  
            purchase the space to place a statement in the voter  
            information portion of the sample ballot that does not exceed  
            250 words, as specified. 

           This bill:
           
             1)   Permits the governing body of a local agency to permit  
               each candidate for nonpartisan elective office in the local  
               agency to prepare a candidate's statement for the purpose  
               of electronic distribution if the elections official who is  
               conducting the election permits electronic distribution of  
               a candidate's statement.  Provides that a statement  
               prepared for electronic distribution shall be posted on the  
               Internet Web site of the elections official, and may be  
               included in a voter's pamphlet that is electronically  
               distributed by the elections official, as specified.   
               Provides that a candidate's statement prepared for the  
               purpose of electronic distribution shall not be included in  
               a voter's pamphlet that is printed and mailed to voters, as  
               specified. 


             2)   Requires any candidate's statement submitted by a  
               candidate for nonpartisan elective office in a local agency  
               to be printed in the voter's pamphlets that accompany the  
               sample ballots to be included with any statement that is  








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               prepared and electronically distributed pursuant to this  
               bill. 


             3)   Requires statements that are electronically distributed  
               pursuant to this bill to be displayed in a type of uniform  
               size and darkness, and with uniform spacing. 


             4)   Requires the elections official to provide a Spanish  
               translation of a candidate statement that is prepared for  
               electronic distribution to any candidate who wishes to have  
               a translation, and requires the elections official to  
               select a person to provide that translation as specified. 


             5)   Permits a local agency to require each candidate for  
               nonpartisan elective office who submits a candidate's  
               statement for the purpose of electronic distribution to pay  
               in advance to the local agency that candidate's estimated  
               pro rata share of having the statement electronically  
               distributed.  Provides that the local agency is not bound  
               by the estimate and may bill candidates for the additional  
               actual expense or refund any excess paid depending on the  
               final actual cost. 


             6)   Requires each voter's pamphlet that contains candidate  
               statements from candidates for nonpartisan elective office  
               of a local agency, if the agency has authorized candidates  
               to prepare a statement for the purpose of electronic  
               distribution, to include a statement that additional  
               statements are available on the Internet Web site of the  
               elections official, and requires the statement to include  
               the address of the Web site at which the statements may be  
               viewed. 

             7)   Makes corresponding and technical changes.

           BACKGROUND
           
           Candidate Statements and Costs to Candidates  :  As noted above,  
          every candidate for nonpartisan, local elective office has the  
          ability to prepare a candidate's statement to be included in a  








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          voter's pamphlet that is sent to voters with the sample ballot.   
          Because sample ballots are sent to all voters except those who  
          register to vote shortly before the election, these statements  
          allow candidates to provide a large segment of the electorate  
          with information about their qualifications. 

          In order to defray the costs of producing the voter's pamphlet,  
          existing law allows local agencies to charge candidates for the  
          costs of printing, handling, translating, and mailing candidate  
          statements to voters.  There is no uniform method that is used  
          to calculate the cost to candidates for having their statements  
          included in the voter's pamphlet; the cost of placing a  
          candidate statement in the voter's pamphlet, however, generally  
          is related to the number of voters who are eligible to vote for  
          the office that a candidate is seeking.  While the cost of a  
          candidate's statement might be less than $100 for a school board  
          candidate in a small school district, the estimated cost for a  
          candidate for Superior Court Judge in Orange County to provide a  
          400 word statement is nearly $29,000.  In Los Angeles County,  
          the cost for a candidate for countywide office to place a  
          candidate statement in the voter's pamphlet exceeds $70,000, and  
          could cost four times that amount if the candidate chose to have  
          the statement printed in Spanish as well as English, and if the  
          statement was long enough that it extended onto a second page in  
          the voter's pamphlet.  

          While local agencies are allowed to charge candidates for  
          including statements in the voter's pamphlet, they are not  
          required to do so. For at least the last decade, San Francisco  
          has allowed candidates for nonpartisan, local elective office to  
          place a candidate statement in the voter's pamphlet free of  
          charge.  Over that time period, 366 of the 369 candidates for  
          nonpartisan, local elective office who have appeared on the  
          ballot in San Francisco have chosen to provide a candidate  
          statement to be included in the voter's pamphlet. 

           Local Office Only  :  The provisions of this bill authorizing  
          local jurisdictions to allow candidates to submit candidate  
          statements solely for the purposes of electronic distribution  
          are applicable only to candidates for nonpartisan, local  
          elective office. Statements by candidates for State Assembly,  
          State Senate, and United States House of Representatives, also  
          appear in the voter's pamphlet that is distributed with the  
          sample ballot, but this bill would not explicitly permit local  








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          jurisdictions to authorize candidates for those offices to  
          submit candidate statements solely for the purposes of  
          electronic distribution.  Statements submitted by candidates for  
          those offices, however, are subject to different restrictions  
          and procedures than statements submitted by candidates for  
          nonpartisan, local elective office.  Candidates for state  
          Legislature, for instance, must agree to abide by voluntary  
          expenditure limits in order to be eligible to place a candidate  
          statement in the voter information portion of the sample ballot.  
          Furthermore, while local jurisdictions have the authority to  
          decide whether to charge candidates for nonpartisan, local  
          elective office for including candidate statements in the  
          voter's pamphlet, state law generally requires candidates for  
          the Legislature and Congress to "purchase the space" to place a  
          statement in the voter information portion of the sample ballot.  


           COMMENTS
                                           
           According to the author  :  The cost of candidate statements has a  
          direct impact on the amount of information that voters have  
          about candidates who are running for local office.  In the  
          November 2014 election, San Francisco did not charge candidates  
          for local nonpartisan office for placing a candidate statement  
          in the voter's pamphlet.  Of the 43 candidates running for  
          local, nonpartisan office, 42 submitted a candidate statement to  
          be included in the voter's pamphlet.  By contrast, in  
          jurisdictions where candidates must pay to have their statements  
          included in the voter's pamphlet, it is not uncommon for less  
          than 10 percent of candidates to have a statement appear in the  
          voter's pamphlet. 

          As people increasingly choose to access information about  
          elections electronically, and as elections officials move to  
          improve efficiency by providing more information to voters in an  
          electronic format, it makes sense to provide a lower cost option  
          for candidates to communicate with voters about their  
          qualifications.





                               RELATED/PRIOR LEGISLATION








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           AB 2911 (Elections and Redistricting Committee), which is also  
          being heard in this committee today, standardizes terms in the  
          Elections Code that are used to refer to the county and state  
          voter information guides. 

           PRIOR ACTION
           
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          |Assembly Floor:                       |79 - 0                     |
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          |Assembly Elections and Redistricting  |  7 - 0                    |
          |Committee:                            |                           |
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          POSITIONS
           
          Sponsor:  Author 

          Support:  California Voter Foundation 
                    Cathy Darling Allen, Shasta County Clerk/Registrar of  
               Voters 
                    Dean Logan, Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/  
               County Clerk
                    Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors

           Oppose:   None received
                                          
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